Broke-Ass Tag: help


If you read the Broke Ass Brigade Newsletter yesterday, you know that I’m rebooting my “What You Don’t Know About Your Wedding” teleclass series from last year. Talking with a DJ on Wednesday, still working on interviewing a bartender. And for those of you who won’t be able to get on the call live to ask questions (Because it’ll be 9pm/10pm where you are, and “Modern Family”/”Revenge” is on), just get on the list and I’ll send you an .mp3 later.

There’s  just a lot of stuff you don’t know. And you’re not supposed to, because this is the first time you’ve ever planned a wedding. Not to mention your last, hopefully. It’s like asking you to be lead surgeon on a heart transplant. Less at stake, yes. Still not going to happen without a bunch more experience. So, in no particular order, except how they’re occurring to me under deadline pressure:

1. Tax and Service and Delivery – Seriously, the first question you should ask any vendor after you get a quote. $35 per person for dinner sounds great, until you add almost 10% for the tax and 20% for service, which throws another $10 on there.  Granted we’re expensive here in L.A., but do your local calculations and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t faint when you add it up for the bar. $5 chivaris – Yay! $150 delivery? Hmm…ASK AND CALCULATE.

Sooo pretty. And You're never going to see them all again.

2. No matter what you do, you can’t get everyone to RSVP on time. Even if you use e-vites. Even if you ask them to RSVP online. Even if you give them a later RSVP date. Even if you give them an early one. You are still going to end up calling and emailing stragglers after the date has passed. Sucks.

3. Same goes for showing up on time.

4. Same goes for showing up at all, period. As a coordinator who knows what it took to get there and what it cost per person, there is nothing more annoying to me on your behalf, than empty seats at a table. And it happens at just about every wedding. Sometimes there are good reasons, but still. KHANN!!

Oh, so THAT'S Why...

The Secret Lives of Wedding Photographers (Courtesy of the International Society of Wedding Photographers)

5. There is a reason why you won’t see pictures for a few weeks after your wedding. They say that for every hour a photographer shoots your wedding, they do 4-6 hours of work on your pictures. Editing, color correcting, admin work, posting to an online gallery. And this is for every wedding they do, not to mention all the other stuff they have to do to maintain their businesses. Photographers are usually pretty realistic about how long it’s going to take – they are NOT  being lazy or brushing you off. But you’ve seen their other work. You know the end result is worth it.

6. You won’t be able to return all of your unused alcohol. I know, right? If you had to chill it, you won’t be able to return it, whether  you opened it or not. Once it gets back to room temperature it’s going to skunk pretty quickly, and most stores won’t take it back at that point. And, of course, you can’t return open bottles of anything, so tell  your bartender not to open a new bottle or jar until the last one is empty.  You would think that would be intuitive, but not always.

7. Buffets aren’t necessarily cheaper than sit-down. “Yes, they are!” a Caterer friend said to me. “Well, yeah, the way YOU do them!” I shot back. Buffets require less staff, but possibly more equipment and rentals. And it depends on the menu you choose.  Sit down and compare Apples to Apples, cost to cost.

8. Three things that will be left over: Programs, Cake, Favors. Keep 10 programs for yourself and your family, recycle the rest. Ask the bakery about to-go boxes when you order the cake. Food or candy are the only favor that completely disappears.

9. With a few exceptions, your family actually wants what’s best for you, I swear. They just think that they know what’s best for you, and they think you don’t. How could you? You’re a kid, still. Don’t prove them right – no tantrums, no fights. Confirm, with a smile,  that whatever it is that you want is what you want, and the way you want it will work out fine. And then keep moving until you reach a safe distance. Repeat as necessary. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be easy!

10. This is all going to work out. You are going to find all of your vendors, get everything scheduled, dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and have  a wonderful wedding during which you will be absolutely gorgeous. It might seem harrowing right now, but it’s going to come together, I promise.

So, what are your questions about this list? Would you add anything to it? Let me know below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

  • 5/27

    Hi Liz,

    My wedding is in September, and I’ve been struggling with my guest list for at least 6 months now – I didn’t send out  Save the Dates simply because I couldn’t get it together in time. The main issue is that my venue has a 50 person cap if I want a sit down meal.  I’m happy with having a small wedding, but it means there are old college roommates and friends from my 20s that I simply can’t invite.  We thought of having a separate event the day after the wedding, but that basically means planning two weddings at once. Do you have any solutions for how I can include and celebrate with folks who are emotionally important to me but won’t be invited to the wedding? And once they get here, how do we acknowledge/handle out of town friends? We don’t own a house, or else I’d go the BBQ route!

    Gobstopped at the Guest List

    Dear Gobstopped,

    I can’t decide whether to start tackling this from the “good news” standpoint, or the “wedding planner with a stopwatch and a bucket of water” standpoint. Coin toss…bucket of water wins: If you don’t have enough room to invite your college roommates and friends from your 20s, then you can’t invite them.  Sucks, but you can’t do it. The rule, such as it is, is that you don’t have to invite anyone you haven’t seen or talked to in over a year. Start slashing, over a glass of wine if you have to. And try and get those invites out next month, my stopwatch is ticking. Oh, and practice saying this so you’ll have it ready if anyone asks, “It’s small wedding – the venue that we love only accommodates 50 people. And there was his list, too, so that limited mine even more.” Not just short and simple, but true. And they’ll get it – they weren’t invited, but then again, a lot of people weren’t.

    Now for the good news, such as it is: Typically, you get about a 15% attrition rate – in other words, 15% of the guests you invite are not going to be able to make it, for whatever reason. That even goes up a little if you have more out-of-towners. So, you can send invitations to say, 60 – 65 people and you should still end up at your limit.

    You can also stagger your invites – send half or so out to those whoabsolutelypositively MUST be invited, like family and your best friends and wedding party.  Then depending on how many actually accept within a couple of weeks, send out more. Everyone gets the same RSVP date, but you just need to give yourself a deadline to send out the second set.

    As for those who didn’t make the cut, take a cue from my friends who’ve eloped – Send out wedding announcements afterward, either formal or by email. If you want to do formal ones, order them at the same time as your invites, and then send them out at the same time you mail your thank you cards. That’s like, 3 birds with one stone. Love it.

    Out of town friends? If they’re not going to the rehearsal dinner or there isn’t going to be a rehearsal dinner, then find a bar you love with a great happy hour and invite them to hang out for a couple of drinks. If you can, buy the first round.

    That being said…

    Wow, these can get you coming and going, right?

    Hi Liz!
    I’m wondering what on Earth happens when more people show up than you are allowed to accommodate. I’m not overly worried about it – we only invited about 10 more people than the 150 we’re allotted, and of course some won’t be able to come. But I have this nagging feeling like: wait, what if they
    do all come? Most of our guests are local, so we’ll probably have a lower “No” rate than usual. It’s most likely I’m fretting over nothing at all! But have you heard tales of venues that are very strict about capacity, and weddings that are over that capacity?


    Space Worrier

    Dear Space,

    Most venues have capacity rules, but odds are that you’ll be fine – it’s that whole 15% attrition thing I was talking about above. But give your venue a call and ask if they would be able to accommodate 10 extra guests,  if it comes down to it. Find out what that would look like logistically and cost-wise. Forewarned is forearmed, and it will make you feel better. I have coordinated weddings where more guests showed up than expected (RSVPs looks like an approximation to some people), and from my experience, venues and caterers generally make more food than is ordered and you can usually squeeze another table in there somewhere. But definitely, definitely ask.

    So, are any of you going through these dilemmas, or does anyone have any more advice to give? Let me know in the comments!

    See you at the end of the aisle,